An Official Response: A Call To End The Inhumane Portrayals of Murdered Trans Women.
Here is our public response to the absolutely horrifying reporting on the late Rene “Rosita” Hernandez, who was found stabbed 23 times in the neck, back, chest, and hand in March of this year. We stand in solidarity with Rene Hernandez.
You can read the original article HERE
To: David Smiley
CC: The Miami Herald
“There are simply not enough words to describe the article reporting on the horrific murder of Rene Hernandez published on Monday, November 19, 2012 by the Miami Herald.
If I could sum the article up with just two words, ‘utterly disgraceful’ are the words I’d use.
To learn of this woman’s tragic death has been more than hurtful to the LGBT community, but to read
the article you posted which completely dehumanized Rene Hernandez and minimized her life to that
of just another “transgender hooker” was absolutely heart-breaking.
The entire article was a smear campaign against a woman who is already dead, and your words,
Mr. Smiley, put the final nail in her coffin.
Your reporting was not only extremely insensitive to the transgender community and our allies, but
your story-telling was one of the most extreme examples of transphobic news reporting I’ve seen
“Investigators say they learned from friends and neighbors that Hidalgo was a transgender prostitute who wore women’s clothing and underwear and had undergone hormone therapy but not genital reconstructive surgery. Hidalgo “would entertain sex partners four to six times a day in exchange for cash, marijuana or for personal enjoyment and would sometimes pick up homeless men for this purpose,” according to a warrant filed by Detective Oldy Ochoa.”
I have two questions for you, Mr. Smiley: If Rene Hernandez was a member of your family, a friend,
or an acquaintance of yours who had been brutally murdered, would you have written the article the same way?
If Rene Hernandez was not a trans woman, would you have felt the need to reference her genitalia,
her personal hormone treatments, let alone the fact that she, like most women, wore women’s underwear under her clothing?
Many of us in the community, upon reading your article, are left wondering how such careless disregard for Rene Hernandez’s right to dignity and human decency could occur (yes, even in her death) during Transgender Awareness Month, and shockingly, a day before the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day designated to the memories and experiences of trans* people. I can only assume from the overwhelmingly tactless nature of your article, that you have not had someone close to you killed in a violent hate crime. I can also safely assume that
you are neither kin to, nor friends with a transgender person. Your article is inhumane, insensitve, and untimely to say the least.
I might add, it does not take knowing a person’s background, trials and triumphs, or gender identity to respect their life and legacy (yes, even the life and legacy of someone you see only as a transgender prosititute).
You see, reporting that Rene Hernandez “would entertain sex partners four to six times a day in exchange for cash, marijuana or for personal enjoyment,” does not change the fact that she was somebody’s daughter, somebody’s friend, somebody’s inspiration, and somebody to care about. Rene Hernandez was more than a victim, and there was certainly more to her life than your bloodless article states.
Above all, Mr. Smiley, Rene Hernandez was a human being, whose life was deliberately taken in an
act of extreme hatred. You chose to write an article that only reports on a part of her life that you
consider to be dark, and your employer allowed this article to run knowing that Rene Hernandez would be remembered only for these things.
Despite the damage your article may or may not have done, in tainting the memory, the life and legacy of Ms. Rene Hernandez of Miami, Florida, please know that she will be lifted up in love and light by
her trans brothers and sisters who know of her struggle, and by all of the decent human beings who read her story in its entirety.
Today, on the national Transgender Day of Remembrance, where thousands have gathered
in their respective communities to honor the lives of transgender men and women who have been lost
to suicide and homicide, the Miami Herald chose to post your callous, transphobic, simply unkind
article that reported Rene Hernandez to be, as you said, nothing more than a transgender prostitute.
While many people are left wondering, was there more to Rene Hernandez than your article reported, there is an entire community of people who know that yes, there was more to this woman than the circumstances surrounding her murder.
We stand in solidarity with Rene Hernandez. We refuse to allow you, or the Miami Herald to dehumanize another woman, who happens to be trans.
In a recent blog post, writer and transgender advocate Janet Mock stated, “Trans women are so much more than the less-than-human portraits they continue paint of us.” — it is times like this where those
words could never ring truer.
As a journalist, you have a responsibility to elevate the awareness of your readers and to inspire community building through reporting ill-fated incidences such as this. 265 trans people were reported murdered in 2012, in acts of hatred and bigotry. This does not include those assaulted, imprisoned, and held captive to constant fear and oppression. There has never been a more crucial time for positive, affirming media representation of transgender people, from all walks of life.
Unfortunately your biases, *ahem* “objectivity” have caused an innocent woman, working for survival, to be layed to rest with a disfigured legacy.
Myself and others will do the work to restore Rene Hernandez’s legacy, and we will celebrate her life, because unlike the tone of your article suggests, we know that she is worth that, Mr. Smiley.
– Noah Alvarez, WeHappyTrans.com”
[Article referenced from: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/19/3104863/man-charged-in-murder-of-transgender.html]